Tag Archives: Mars Atmosphere And Volatile Evolution

NASA News Digest: Space Science For 4 November – 12 November 2015

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

The NASA News Service provides up-to-date announcements of NASA policy, news events, and space science. A recent selection of space science articles are provided below, including direct links to the full announcements. Those interested in receiving these announcements from NASA can subscribe to their service by sending an email to: hqnews-request@newsletters.nasa.gov?subject=subscribe

Be An Astronaut: NASA Seeks Explorers For Future Space Missions

RELEASE 15-216 (Click here for the full article) – 4 November 2015

In anticipation of returning human spaceflight launches to American soil, and in preparation for the agency’s journey to Mars, NASA announced it will soon begin accepting applications for the next class of astronaut candidates. With more human spacecraft in development in the United States today than at any other time in history, future astronauts will launch once again from the Space Coast of Florida on American-made commercial spacecraft, and carry out deep-space exploration missions that will advance a future human mission to Mars.

The agency will accept applications from Dec. 14 through mid-February and expects to announce candidates selected in mid-2017. Applications for consideration as a NASA Astronaut will be accepted at: http://www.usajobs.gov

The next class of astronauts may fly on any of four different U.S. vessels during their careers: the International Space Station, two commercial crew spacecraft currently in development by U.S. companies, and NASA’s Orion deep-space exploration vehicle.

From pilots and engineers, to scientists and medical doctors, NASA selects qualified astronaut candidates from a diverse pool of U.S. citizens with a wide variety of backgrounds.

The agency will accept applications from Dec. 14 through mid-February and expects to announce candidates selected in mid-2017. Applications for consideration as a NASA Astronaut will be accepted at:

For more information about a career as a NASA astronaut, and application requirements, visit: www.nasa.gov/astronauts

NASA Mission Reveals Speed of Solar Wind Stripping Martian Atmosphere

RELEASE 15-217 (Click here for the full article) – 5 November 2015

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission has identified the process that appears to have played a key role in the transition of the Martian climate from an early, warm and wet environment that might have supported surface life to the cold, arid planet Mars is today.

MAVEN data have enabled researchers to determine the rate at which the Martian atmosphere currently is losing gas to space via stripping by the solar wind. The findings reveal that the erosion of Mars’ atmosphere increases significantly during solar storms. The scientific results from the mission appear in the Nov. 5 issues of the journals Science and Geophysical Research Letters.

“Mars appears to have had a thick atmosphere warm enough to support liquid water which is a key ingredient and medium for life as we currently know it,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator for the NASA Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Understanding what happened to the Mars atmosphere will inform our knowledge of the dynamics and evolution of any planetary atmosphere. Learning what can cause changes to a planet’s environment from one that could host microbes at the surface to one that doesn’t is important to know, and is a key question that is being addressed in NASA’s journey to Mars.”

To view an animation simulating the loss of atmosphere and water on Mars: svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?4370

For more information and images on Mars’ lost atmosphere, visit: svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?4393

For more information about NASA’s MAVEN mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/maven

Four Months After Pluto Flyby, NASA’s New Horizons Yields Wealth Of Discovery

RELEASE 15-214 (Click here for the full article) – 9 November 2015

From possible ice volcanoes to twirling moons, NASA’s New Horizons science team is discussing more than 50 exciting discoveries about Pluto at this week’s 47th Annual Meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences in National Harbor, Maryland.

“The New Horizons mission has taken what we thought we knew about Pluto and turned it upside down,” said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “It’s why we explore — to satisfy our innate curiosity and answer deeper questions about how we got here and what lies beyond the next horizon.”

For one such discovery, New Horizons geologists combined images of Pluto’s surface to make 3-D maps that indicate two of Pluto’s most distinctive mountains could be cryovolcanoes — ice volcanoes that may have been active in the recent geological past.

To view more images and graphics being presented by New Horizons scientists at the 47th Annual Meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences, visit: pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/Press-Conferences/November-9-2015.php

For more information on NASA’s New Horizons mission, including fact sheets, videos and images, visit: www.nasa.gov/newhorizons

As Earth Warms, NASA Targets ‘Other Half’ Of Carbon, Climate Equation

RELEASE 15-219 (Click here for the full article) – 12 November 2015

During a noon EST media teleconference today, NASA and university scientists will discuss new insights, tools and agency research into key carbon and climate change questions, as the agency ramps up its efforts to understand how Earth’s ocean, forest, and land ecosystems absorb nearly half of emitted carbon dioxide today.

Carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by human activities influences the amount of the sun’s energy trapped by Earth’s atmosphere. These emissions are the subject of a United Nations climate conference in Paris later this month. To improve the information available to policymakers on this issue, scientists are grappling with the complex question of whether Earth’s oceans, forests and land ecosystems will maintain their capacity to absorb about half of all human-produced carbon dioxide emissions in the future.

“NASA is at the forefront of scientific understanding in this area, bringing together advanced measurement technologies, focused field experiments, and cutting-edge research to reveal how carbon moves around the planet and changes our climate,” said Michael Freilich, director of NASA’s Earth Science Division. “Understanding how the planet responds to human carbon emissions and increasing atmospheric CO2 levels will position our nation to take advantage of the opportunities and face the challenges that climate changes present.”

To learn more about NASA’s efforts to better understand the carbon and climate challenge, visit: www.nasa.gov/carbonclimate

NASA Orders SpaceX Crew Mission To International Space Station

RELEASE 15-224 (Click here for the full article) – 20 November 2015

2012nov22_39a_aerial1NASA took a significant step Friday toward expanding research opportunities aboard the International Space Station with its first mission order from Hawthorne, California based-company SpaceX to launch astronauts from U.S. soil.

This is the second in a series of four guaranteed orders NASA will make under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts. The Boeing Company of Houston received its first crew mission order in May.

“It’s really exciting to see SpaceX and Boeing with hardware in flow for their first crew rotation missions,” said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “It is important to have at least two healthy and robust capabilities from U.S. companies to deliver crew and critical scientific experiments from American soil to the space station throughout its lifespan.”

For the latest on Commercial Crew progress, bookmark the program’s blog at: blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

NASA News Digest: Space Science For 15 March – 26 March 2015

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

The NASA News service provides up-to-date announcements of NASA policy, news events, and space science. A recent selection of space science articles are provided below, including direct links to the full announcements. Those interested in receiving these news announcements directly from NASA can subscribe to their service by sending an email to:

hqnews-request@newsletters.nasa.gov?subject=subscribe

New Desktop Application Has Potential To Increase Asteroid Detection, Now Available To Public

RELEASE 15-041 (Click here for the full article) – 15 March 2015

2015april2_15_041A software application based on an algorithm created by a NASA challenge has the potential to increase the number of new asteroid discoveries by amateur astronomers.

Analysis of images taken of our solar system’s main belt asteroids between Mars and Jupiter using the algorithm showed a 15 percent increase in positive identification of new asteroids.

During a panel Sunday at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, NASA representatives discussed how citizen scientists have made a difference in asteroid hunting. They also announced the release of a desktop software application developed by NASA in partnership with Planetary Resources, Inc., of Redmond, Washington. The application is based on an Asteroid Data Hunter-derived algorithm that analyzes images for potential asteroids. It’s a tool that can be used by amateur astronomers and citizen scientists.

The new asteroid hunting application can be downloaded at: topcoder.com/asteroids

For information about NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge, visit: www.nasa.gov/asteroidinitiative

NASA Spacecraft Detects Aurora And Mysterious Dust Cloud Around Mars

RELEASE 15-045 (Click here for the full article) – 18 March 2015

2015april2_15_045aNASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has observed two unexpected phenomena in the Martian atmosphere: an unexplained high-altitude dust cloud and aurora that reaches deep into the Martian atmosphere.

The presence of the dust at orbital altitudes from about 93 miles (150 kilometers) to 190 miles (300 kilometers) above the surface was not predicted. Although the source and composition of the dust are unknown, there is no hazard to MAVEN and other spacecraft orbiting Mars.

“If the dust originates from the atmosphere, this suggests we are missing some fundamental process in the Martian atmosphere,” said Laila Andersson of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospherics and Space Physics (CU LASP), Boulder, Colorado.

For images related to the findings, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/maven

NASA’s SOFIA Finds Missing Link Between Supernovae And Planet Formation

RELEASE 15-044 (Click here for the full article) – 19 March 2015

2015april2_15_044aUsing NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), an international scientific team discovered that supernovae are capable of producing a substantial amount of the material from which planets like Earth can form.

These findings are published in the March 19 online issue of Science magazine.

“Our observations reveal a particular cloud produced by a supernova explosion 10,000 years ago contains enough dust to make 7,000 Earths,” said Ryan Lau of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

The research team, headed by Lau, used SOFIA’s airborne telescope and the Faint Object InfraRed Camera for the SOFIA Telescope, FORCAST, to take detailed infrared images of an interstellar dust cloud known as Supernova Remnant Sagittarius A East, or SNR Sgr A East.

For more information about SOFIA, visit: www.nasa.gov/sofia or www.dlr.de/en/sofia

For information about SOFIA’s science mission and scientific instruments, visit: www.sofia.usra.edu or www.dsi.uni-stuttgart.de/index.en.html

NASA’s Opportunity Mars Rover Finishes Marathon, Clocks In At Just Over 11 Years

RELEASE 15-049 (Click here for the full article) – 24 March 2015

2015april2_15_049cThere was no tape draped across a finish line, but NASA is celebrating a win. The agency’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity completed its first Red Planet marathon Tuesday — 26.219 miles (42.195 kilometers) – with a finish time of roughly 11 years and two months.

“This is the first time any human enterprise has exceeded the distance of a marathon on the surface of another world,” said John Callas, Opportunity project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. “A first time happens only once.”

The rover team at JPL plans a marathon-length relay run at the laboratory next week to celebrate.

The long-lived rover surpassed the marathon mark during a drive of 153 feet (46.5 meters). Last year, Opportunity became the long-distance champion of all off-Earth vehicles when it topped the previous record set by the former Soviet Union’s Lunokhod 2 moon rover.

For more information about Opportunity, visit www.nasa.gov/rovers

Follow the project on social media at: twitter.com/MarsRovers and www.facebook.com/mars.rovers

NASA’s Hubble, Chandra Find Clues That May Help Identify Dark Matter

RELEASE 15-046 (Click here for the full article) – 26 March 2015

2015april2_15_046Using observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have found that dark matter does not slow down when colliding with itself, meaning it interacts with itself less than previously thought. Researchers say this finding narrows down the options for what this mysterious substance might be.

Dark matter is an invisible matter that makes up most of the mass of the universe. Because dark matter does not reflect, absorb or emit light, it can only be traced indirectly by, such as by measuring how it warps space through gravitational lensing, during which the light from a distant source is magnified and distorted by the gravity of dark matter.

To learn more about dark matter and test such theories, researchers study it in a way similar to experiments on visible matter — by watching what happens when it bumps into other objects. In this case, the colliding objects under observation are galaxy clusters.

For images and more information about the Hubble Space Telescope, visit: www.nasa.gov/hubble

For more Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/main

NASA News Digest: Space Science For 27 October – 5 December 2014

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

The NASA News service provides up-to-date announcements of NASA policy, news events, and space science. A recent selection of space science articles are provided below, including direct links to the full announcements. Those interested in receiving these news announcements directly from NASA can subscribe to their service by sending an email to:

hqnews-request@newsletters.nasa.gov?subject=subscribe

NASA’S Chandra Observatory Identifies Impact of Cosmic Chaos on Star Birth

RELEASE 14-296 (Click here for the full article) – 27 October 2014

2014dec14_14_296The same phenomenon that causes a bumpy airplane ride, turbulence, may be the solution to a long-standing mystery about stars’ birth, or the absence of it, according to a new study using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Galaxy clusters are the largest objects in the universe, held together by gravity. These behemoths contain hundreds or thousands of individual galaxies that are immersed in gas with temperatures of millions of degrees.

This hot gas, which is the heftiest component of the galaxy clusters aside from unseen dark matter, glows brightly in X-ray light detected by Chandra. Over time, the gas in the centers of these clusters should cool enough that stars form at prodigious rates. However, this is not what astronomers have observed in many galaxy clusters.

An interactive image, podcast, and video about these findings are available at: chandra.si.edu
For more Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit: www.nasa.gov/chandra

NASA Rocket Experiment Finds the Universe Brighter Than We Thought

RELEASE 14-310 (Click here for the full article) – 6 November 2014

2014dec14_14_310A NASA sounding rocket experiment has detected a surprising surplus of infrared light in the dark space between galaxies, a diffuse cosmic glow as bright as all known galaxies combined. The glow is thought to be from orphaned stars flung out of galaxies.

The findings redefine what scientists think of as galaxies. Galaxies may not have a set boundary of stars, but instead stretch out to great distances, forming a vast, interconnected sea of stars.

Observations from the Cosmic Infrared Background Experiment, or CIBER, are helping settle a debate on whether this background infrared light in the universe, previously detected by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, comes from these streams of stripped stars too distant to be seen individually, or alternatively from the first galaxies to form in the universe.

For more information on NASA’s sounding rocket experiments, visit:
www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sounding-rockets/
For more information about CIBER, visit: ciber.caltech.edu/rocket.html

Mars Spacecraft Reveal Comet Flyby Effects on Martian Atmosphere

RELEASE 14-311 (Click here for the full article) – 7 November 2014

2014dec14_14_311Two NASA and one European spacecraft that obtained the first up-close observations of a comet flyby of Mars on Oct. 19, have gathered new information about the basic properties of the comet’s nucleus and directly detected the effects on the Martian atmosphere.

Data from observations carried out by NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and a radar instrument on the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Mars Express spacecraft have revealed that debris from the comet added a temporary and very strong layer of ions to the ionosphere, the electrically charged layer high above Mars. In these observations, scientists were able to make a direct connection from the input of debris from a specific meteor shower to the formation of this kind of transient layer in response; that is a first on any planet, including Earth.

For more information about NASA’s Mars missions, visit: www.nasa.gov/mars

NASA’s New Orion Spacecraft Completes First Spaceflight Test

RELEASE 14-325 (Click here for the full article) – 5 December 2014

2014dec14_14_325NASA marked a major milestone Friday on its journey to Mars as the Orion spacecraft completed its first voyage to space, traveling farther than any spacecraft designed for astronauts has been in more than 40 years.

“Today’s flight test of Orion is a huge step for NASA and a really critical part of our work to pioneer deep space on our Journey to Mars,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “The teams did a tremendous job putting Orion through its paces in the real environment it will endure as we push the boundary of human exploration in the coming years.”

For more information about Orion, its flight test and the Journey to Mars, visit: www.nasa.gov/orion and go.nasa.gov/1pVQu0S

NASA’s Fermi Space Telescope Reveals New Source of Gamma Rays

RELEASE 14-326 (Click here for the full article) – 8 December 2014

2014dec14_14_326Observations by NASA’s Curiosity Rover indicate Mars’ Mount Sharp was built by sediments deposited in a large lake bed over tens of millions of years.

This interpretation of Curiosity’s finds in Gale Crater suggests ancient Mars maintained a climate that could have produced long-lasting lakes at many locations on the Red Planet.

“If our hypothesis for Mount Sharp holds up, it challenges the notion that warm and wet conditions were transient, local, or only underground on Mars,” said Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity deputy project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. “A more radical explanation is that Mars’ ancient, thicker atmosphere raised temperatures above freezing globally, but so far we don’t know how the atmosphere did that.”

For more information about Curiosity, visit: www.nasa.gov/msl and mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/

Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at: facebook.com/marscuriosity and twitter.com/marscuriosity